Tube Choice Experience/Lesson

First off let me say I have never owned anything but solid state amps and preamps and my knowledge of tubes is zilch. I want to share what I have learned upgrading tubes for my Cary SLP-03 preamp.

I will never purchase tubes without input from the manufacturer or dealer again. When I call up the tube guy I will know beforehand what tube I want, I will not listen to his suggestions anymore. Simple reason is they are trying to unload stock onto the unwary.

I started emailing from ebay the tube guy in regards to tubes for my Cary SLP-03, that was my first mistake, then I called. I ordered Genelex platinum at his suggestion but ended up with Genelex gold and they sounded really bad. The tube guy says send them back and he'll send out some really nice tubes, Ciftes. $260 later including postage both ways I find the Ciftes no better than the stock Harmonix. I then call a dealer and Cary tech dept. The response I got was I should have called them first because the only thing that will sound good in that SLP-03 are Mullards, Ge's, and the stock Harmonix. I go back to the tube guys site and do a little research and find he sells the Cary SLP-03 but with Mullard tubes. $260 later lesson learned.

Anyways, thought some of you get a chuckle out of my lesson learned.
As with so many things in audio, there is a presumption that stock tubes must be changed out immediately. Much like the presumption that no component can ever stand on its stock feet and some type of footer must be inserted. I've seen numerous posts where someone is getting a new tube amp - didn't even receive it yet - and is already agonizing about what replacement tubes to put into it. IMO, it's F'Kin nuts. Changing tubes, like changing footers, will change the sound. Perhaps that's the one thing everyone agrees on. But beyond that, you have no idea of whether the change will be to your liking. I think your plan of getting input from the manufacturer or the dealer is very sensible. Or - check with other owners on this forum or others and see if there is a consensus of opinion on a particular tube. Otherwise, it's just playing pin the tail on the audiophile. Which is exactly what many people seem to do. Good luck.
" IMO, it's F'Kin nuts. "

Tubes fascinated me as a kid. They glowed and I had no clue how they worked or what they did really back then. We were not wealthy and I had to find mostly my own toys around the house. So tubes were cool!

Still are. They make for nice toys for grown up audiophiles now. What more reason is needed? Good sound is everywhere these days, but tubes are still fun!
Hey Mental - thanks for sharing. Good advice. I do tend to forget not all sellers are working for a win/win deal. Hopefully you can sell the Ciftes to someone with equipment that will benefit. By the way - are the Mullards Cary recommended current New Sensor product out of Russia or old stock from Great Britain? Thanks.
@Mapman - As I've said before, if one's goal in the audio hobby is to screw around with equipment, it's perfectly valid to start changing tubes before one even listens to his amp. It's your property and you can enjoy it however you see fit. But if your goal is musical satisfaction, I still think it's the wrong way to go about things.
"Anyways, thought some of you get a chuckle out of my lesson learned"
I'm totally agreed with all statement above except I got chuckled every time when I read folks buy gears just to tweaks the FK of it. If they don't like the sound of the system, why buy them?
@ Chayro...the Cary is four years old, it was time. You are right about checking with other owners of a specific model and I should have. Doesn't changed what I learned :)
@ Ghosthouse...I would assume thy referring to new tubes but I cannot say for sure. I haven't got to the point of wanting to order again but before I do I will ask them again and previous SLP-03 owners. *laffs
@ Beewax...I've owned the Cary for 4 years, started sounding shabby so I had the tubes tested before looking for new.
@ Mapman....always did like your responses *grinz
Ciftes have a tight bass, decent mids, the highs are a tad bright for my taste. I prefer the stock tubes over them, what can I say. Eventually I'll change them out. My wife is happy since I no longer play anything at high volume due to the